(CNN) – A national leader of the conservative Tea Party movement has been strongly criticized by Islamic civil rights leaders for referring to the proposed site of a New York City mosque as a place for Muslims to worship "the terrorists' monkey-god."
Tea Party Express organizer Mark Williams blogged on his Web site last week that the mosque - to be constructed near the former site of the World Trade Center - would be a "monument ... for the worship of the terrorists' monkey-god and a 'cultural center' to propagandize for the extermination of all things not approved by their cult."
Williams, who also referred to "animals of Allah," was rebuked Thursday by the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The group issued a release Wednesday calling on other Tea Party activists to repudiate Williams' remarks.
"It would be shocking if such ignorant comments failed to elicit a strong response not only from Tea Party leaders, but from other parties throughout the political spectrum," CAIR National Legislative Director Corey Saylor said.
For his part, Williams was unapologetic toward Muslims.
"In the course of the article I described the 'god' worshiped by terrorists as 'a monkey god,'" he wrote on his Web site. "I was wrong and that
was offensive. I owe an apology to millions of Hindus who worship Lord Hanuman, an actual Monkey God."
Hanuman is known to followers of the Hindu faith as a symbol of strength and devotion, among other things.
Hanuman "is known as a destroyer of evil and to inspire and liberate," Williams said. "Those are hardly the traits of whatever ... it is that terrorists worship and worthy of my respect and admiration not ridicule."
The twin towers of the World Trade Center in Manhattan were destroyed in an attack by al Qaeda terrorists on September 11, 2001.